Stocks jump on blowout jobs report and upcoming talks with China

Author: AP
Published: Updated:
FILE- In this Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, photo, trader Eric Schumacher, left, and specialist Robert Nelson work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 4. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Stock markets soared Friday as investors welcomed news of trade talks between the U.S. and China next week and the U.S. government reported a big increase in hiring in December. The Dow Jones Industrial Average skyrocketed, rising more than 800 points in the afternoon.

The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 312,000 jobs last month, a far stronger result than experts had anticipated. U.S. stocks have tumbled over the last three months as investors worried that the economy might slow down dramatically because of a variety of challenges including the trade dispute and rising interest rates. Some analysts said investors were acting as if a recession was on the horizon, despite a lack of evidence that the U.S. economy is struggling.

“It’s hard to square recession worries with the strongest job growth we’ve seen in years,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research for FTSE Russell. “The strong December jobs report is a net positive for stocks because investors’ biggest concern has been slowing growth.”

The S&P 500 index gained 87 points, or 3.6 percent, to 2,535 at 1:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow surged by 807 points, or 3.5 percent, to 23,489. The Nasdaq composite jumped 286 points, or 4.5 percent, to 6,751.

China’s Commerce Ministry said talks will be held Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, and market watchers are hoping for signs the world’s largest economic powers will make progress toward resolving their dispute. Trade tensions between the two have dragged on for nearly a year and uncertainty over their outcome has dragged down stock indexes around the world.

The U.S. and China have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a fight over issues including Beijing’s technology policy, which Washington alleges is predatory. Last month, President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to 90-day ceasefire as a step toward defusing tensions.

Technology companies, banks, health care and industrial companies all made strong gains. Microsoft rose 3.1 percent to $100.41 and Deere gained 3.4 percent to $148.96. Retailers and internet companies rose as well, with Amazon up 2.4 percent at $1,536 and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rising 2.3 percent to $1,048. Most of the companies in those industries stand to do better in times of faster economic growth.

Stocks in the U.S. were on track to regain most of Thursday’s losses. The S&P 500 fell 2.5 percent after Apple said iPhone sales in China are falling and a survey suggested U.S. factories grew at a weaker pace. Technology companies took their biggest losses in seven years.

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